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Greg Cosell: Johnny Manziel has almost no pocket skills

Browns fans weren't impressed with the debut of Johnny Manziel, and neither were two of the league's preeminent tape-watchers.

Unpacking Cincinnati's 30-0 trouncing of Cleveland, NFL Media's Mike Mayock praised the Bengals for executing a "beautiful game plan" that focused "11 sets of eyes" on Manziel to keep the rookie tethered between the tackles.

"The only athletic quarterbacks that survive in the NFL are the ones that learn how to win from within the pocket," Mayock told NFL NOW, pointing out Manziel's tendency to hold the ball too long, allowing for defensive backs to jump the route. That's exactly what the Browns quarterback did on the first of his two interceptions on Sunday, throwing a late ball to Andrew Hawkins that landed in the breadbasket of Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

"The problem is Manziel didn't want to stay in the pocket," NFL Films guru Greg Cosell wrote Tuesday on Yahoo! Sports. "He lacks any feel for the pocket, has almost no pocket patience and discipline and is very quick to move and play what I call 'random football' outside of the structure of the offense."

Even more concerning, Cosell took issue with Manziel's "average arm by NFL standards," saying the rookie "needs functional space and a clean pocket to step up into throws and drive the ball. He works hard to put any velocity on his throws."

We also saw Manziel grasp the ball to the point of danger, leading to more than a few of Cincinnati's three sacks and six hits on the passer. It didn't help that the Browns couldn't run the ball or stop Bengals rookie Jeremy Hill from barreling through Cleveland's injury-ravaged front seven.

Today's NFL climate offers little patience for young quarterbacks or the coaches trying to round them into form. Sunday's debut, though, suggests a rookie signal-caller with a long way to go to be viewed as a reliable franchise centerpiece.

"Can he get there with experience? Maybe," Cosell wrote. "But he has a lot to overcome to be a high-level NFL quarterback. He's a small quarterback with average arm strength and almost no pocket skills and discipline at this point."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 15 and discusses all the playoff implications. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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